Kyle: Next up on our watchlist: “The U Pt. 2” aka “The Nevin Shapiro Scandal”. After my initial complaint about the original skimming over the football program’s scandals, director Billy Corben switches gears and presented us with a film split into two halves. In the first half, we have a traditional sports doc covering the last two decades of Hurricanes’ football. The latter half — and the much more interesting one — talks Nevin Shapiro, the NCAA investigation and the Miami Marlins stadium’s construction in the ashes of the Miami Bowl. Although disjointed, this sequel is much more interesting and engaging than its predecessor.
TJ: If you want sex, drugs, scandals and football then this would be more interesting. But, what this film does, much like its original version, is that it shows how inept the NCAA is. Each time this program got success, and started to have fun playing on and off the field, the NCAA started sniffing around hoping to stop the fun by lobbying sanctions to them.
What this film does is show how dominant the Hurricanes were in the early 2000’s. From September 24, 2000 until January 3, 2003, Miami won 34 straight games. The teams had first-round pick, after first-round pick, after first-round pick with a total of 26 during the film’s timespan.
These teams were so great that future hall of fame member, and Houston Texans all-time greatest player, Andre Johnson, was a backup to Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne. Think about that, you’re in college and you see lining up against you three future Pro Bowl wide receivers.
It is a shame that the university got greedy and allowed someone like Nevin Shapiro around the program. But, it wasn’t Nevin who was recruiting players like: Ed Reed, Greg Olson, Vince Wolfork, Kellen Winslow, Willis McGhee, and Sean Taylor.
As one of the players said in the program, “We didn’t need Nevin to get into the clubs.”
Kyle: The Shapiro thing reminds me of the coach Paterno controversy. When he’s in everyone’s good graces and isn’t caught, everyone loves him. Right when the dominos start to fall, everyone turns their back. It was an interesting contrast watching some of the players fess up to liking his company. Especially when it meant they could holster their guns and avoid selling drugs to make ends meet for their families.
The first half did kind of feel like a Sparknotes version of the remaining info that “The U” failed to cover. I felt a little more in tune with this story than the previous, considering coach Larry Coker was the program head of my alma mater UTSA for numerous years. However, just like with the Roadrunners, coach Coker seemed to have had a handle on the team for a couple years, before letting the team dissolve into a lousy unit with more losses clogging their record than wins.
I still felt like the tone of the documentary was compassionate to the coaching staff, regardless of how unlawful their players were acting. As the ‘Canes descended into chaos, all the athlete’s seemed shocked that the administration brought the hammer down on coach Coker. “He’s not at fault,” they claimed. “Coach didn’t do anything,” they moaned. I think the last quote here is imperative; the coach is supposed to be the chief instructor of the team, guiding their student athletes in an effort to utilize teamwork in winning games. The responsibility of governing a culture should be dependant on the coach and his staff to exact disciplinary measures if necessary. Not stand by the sidelines and hope that winning games overshadows antics off-the-field. We’ve seen this too many times to count, with recent events at Baylor being a prime example. Witnessing Baylor descend into Sodom and Gomorrah and claiming Art Briles has zero responsibility is asinine. Same with the HC’s ignoring the often times debauched culture at Miami.
The sequel was starting to get interesting when the team began struggling post the Oklahoma double overtime upset, but director Billy Corben immediately switched gears, treating Randy Shannon and Al Golden as irrelevant sidenotes. The focus shifts to the Shapiro incident — captivating content, but a remarkable subject shift from the previous three hours of strictly Miami football coverage
TJ: Well the reason why they got treated as side notes is because by the time the program got to Shannon and Golden regimes the team was stripped of its talent. Under coach Shannon most, if not, all of the players that took Miami back to the height of the college football universe are playing on Sunday’s. Instead of Ed Reed, you’re stuck with Jacory Harris
Nothing to make a slight on Jacory, and the team did go 9-4, but the program was in deep with the Nevin Shaprio scandal that the cloud of the NCAA hanging over them. By the time Al Golden takes over they’re imposing sanctions on themselves and trying to lessen a punishment that never came.
And, that’s why I loved how the movie ended when they crushed the NCAA. The NCAA loomed over the program from the time Miami exploded onto the program in the late 80’s early 90’s, until they were able to force it into self imposing sanctions.
But, the players never cared for Nevin. He was only forced on them because the officials at the university kept taking his money; much like other schools take on money from “boosters”.
The players didn’t need Nevin, but the school did.
So in the end, the kids get screwed while the adults in the offices of the school, and the NCAA, keep collecting money. The U did a great job of showcasing how messed up of a system these kids are in.
Kyle: I did enjoy “The U Pt. II” much more than the original, but it was still an uneven effort. Wish we got an entire Nevin/scandal documentary; it would have made for a better viewing.
Shoutout to director Billy Corben for agreeing with TJ in our first movie review and ignoring my gripes. Give me a tour around the Miami campus Billy, and I might reconsider not caring about Hurricanes football.
“⅗ for me.” – Kyle Spishock
TJ: That’s right, you can put that on my tombstone when ever my time on this earth comes to an end. But, I have to disagree with you on part-two being better. Yes, it was a good movie. However, the original teams were so much more fun to watch; since the NCAA didn’t have all of the celebrations rules in play whenever the second generation came around.
However, it’s still a solid movie and was good enough to warrant a third spin off, “Catholics vs. Convicts.”
“A solid 4 out of 5.” – TJ
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